Birth of Anglesey Island
by J R Williams
Research work at Bangor University reveals when the Menai Strait was formed, leading to formation Anglesey as the island we know today.
Mike Roberts, a mature student from Amlwch, carried out the key research as part of his PhD thesis in the School of Ocean Sciences at the university in Bangor.
Mike's research work, now been published in the Journal of Quarternary Science
, shows how the Menai Strait formed into a permanent structure roughly between 5,800 and 4,600 years ago.
His paper suggests the area we now know as the tidal Menai Strait was land locked about 14,000 years ago, allowing humans and other species easy access to what is today Anglesey island.
The research charts the gradual impact of cliamte change over the following few thousand years, which resulted in rising sea levels. It was during this period when the coastline of Wales, with which we are now so familiar, gradually took shape.
This included the Menai Strait area being flooded roughly between 8,800 and 8,400 years ago by a very high spring tide. Eventually this formed into the strong tidal waters experienced today by anyone trying to navigate a yacht or dinghy between Anglesey and the mainland.
As the sea levels continued to rise, in time it was only a tidal causeway near Ynys Gorad Goch and the Swellies which continued to connect the mainland to Anglesey.
Mr Roberts's work suggests between 5,800 and 4,600 years ago, a point came when even at the lowest spring tides no dry land appeared. This finally signalled the formation of the Menai Strait.
Not only has this research cast light on when and how Anglesey was formed, it has also provided key data on the ice sheets which covered the Snowdon range.
According to one of Mike's supervisors, Professor James Scourse, this research also confirms the north eastern part of the Menai Strait as one of the most valuable areas in Europe for reconstructing sea level movements.
It is also noteworthy that Mike achieved this success as a mature student, having left school with few qualifications and working as ageneral labourer and fisherman over the next 15 years.
Mike first entered an undergraduate degree at Bangor University through an Access course at Coleg Menai. His research received financial support from the Countryside Council for Wales and the Cemlyn Jones Trust.
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